Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 25 March 2022.
African Pianism is a revelatory collection of music by seven African composers. Released to coincide with Black History Month in the United States, it marks SOMM Recordings solo debut of Nigerian-Romanian pianist Rebeca Omordia. First recordings include three haunting Nocturnes and percussion-enhanced En attente du printemps by Moroccan, Nabil Benabdeljalil. And Five Kaleidoscopes for Piano by Ghanaian-born to Nigerian parents, Fred Onovwerosuoke, best known for Bolingo, featured in the 2006 Robert de Niro film, The Good Shepherd. They evocatively reference a beehive, love of homeland, Nubian folklore and the elemental power of Nature.
Composer/singer/songwriter Gabriel Kahane has released his new record, Magnificent Bird. The album, his fifth solo LP and second for Nonesuch Records, chronicles the final month of a year spent off the internet. In his most personal album since 2011’s Where are the Arms, Kahane revels in the tension between quiet, domestic concerns, and the roiling chaos of a nation and planet in crisis. “Sit Shiva,” the album’s first single, out today, finds Kahane skirting the rules of his digital hiatus in order to mourn, online, the death of his maternal grandmother; in typical fashion, he mines not just pathos, but humor and grace amidst his family’s grief.
Tell Me That It’s Over is the highly anticipated sophomore studio album by Los-Angeles based band, Wallows. It follows the reissue of their second extended-play, Remote, released on late 2020 as a sample of what was coming. The album production begun at the start of 2021. All music videos for TMTIO were directed by Jason Lester. The album draws heavy inspiration from The Exploding Hearts and The Strokes.
Singer/songwriter Cécile McLorin Salvant makes her Nonesuch Records debut with Ghost Song. The new album features a diverse mix of seven originals and five interpretations on the themes of ghosts, nostalgia, and yearning. Salvant says, “It’s unlike anything I’ve done before—it’s getting closer to reflecting my personality as an eclectic curator. I’m embracing my weirdness!” The New York Times calls it “her most revealing and rewarding album yet.” Uncut calls her “one of the most daring and resourceful vocalists in jazz—or any other genre, for that matter.” Jazzwise describes the album as “music of sensitivity and intelligence, which underlines Salvant’s growth as an artist of stature who stylistic choices are as daring as they are mature.”
Traditional music is not static; it shifts with the times, uncovering new meanings in old words, new ways of talking about the communal pathways that led us to where we are today. For master musicians Allison de Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves, traditional stringband music is a way to interpret our uncertain times, to draw artistic inspiration and power from the sources of meaning in their lives. History, family, literature, live performance, and environmental instability all manifest in the sounds, feelings, and sensations that permeate their new album, Hurricane Clarice (out now via Free Dirt Records).
Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Xavier Rudd has released his 10th studio album Jan Juc Moon, out now via Salt.X Records / Virgin Music Australia. The wind blows strong through Jan Juc Moon, it’s a recurring image that speaks of wide-open space and the awesome natural elements that shape it – a force greater than us, but ours to harness if we take the time to learn, reflect and respect its ways. You can catch Xavier live on his Jan Juc Moon Australian Tour commencing in May.
Self-professed “noisy guitar pop band from Sunny QLD” Bugs have released their highly anticipated third studio album Cooties, distributed by Community Music. The record heralds their 17 date Australian tour which kicks off in Newcastle on April 22. The punchy 10-track collection features previous singles Old Youth Feeling, Diamond, Decisions, Commitments & Plans, In The Middle (Of It), and new focus track Alone Again which ties together the expansive exploration of their artistry that this record further highlights. Described as “modern lonely cowboy/cowgirl crooner”, Cooties was recorded and produced by drummer Brock Weston at his home studio in Brisbane. They started by refining a batch of 30 songs during the middle of 2020, and through the continuous lockdowns they managed to record most of the final tracks. From there, Weston engineered the release from scratch, and together with his fellow bandmates was able to find a new confidence within their sound.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television